This photo has gone viral recently. It was first posted on a ‘Gay Marines’ FB page and has since been sent round the internet, with the tagline ‘Gay Marine Comes Home’.

You know me. I am an out and proud ‘homophile’. I am bordering on being a homo myself.  My blog archives are full of pictures of men in clinches, from the sacred to the profane. But when I saw this image I was caught short. I will admit it to you, Roland. I felt a bit queasy. And I think you will understand why.

The photograph is a graphic illustration of the end of DADT, the edict that kept gay, lesbian AND BISEXUAL army personnel from being open about their sexuality. In some ways, the military was, until very recently, the last bastion of ‘pre-gay’ times. ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’ has been the unspoken motto of men who have sex with men for eons. And now it is over.

But it is not just the repression of homosexuality that is over here. I fear some other things may be on their way out too. What about all those soldiers ‘acting gay’ on video? Will they be doing that so much, when their gay colleagues are on site? Or, a story you know intimately, those plucky GIS who went gay for pay a few years back. Would that happen when being gay in the army is normalised?

I know that you and your ‘accomplice’ in homo-anthropology Steven Zeeland, have had a range of feelings about the ‘coming home’ of gayness in the military. In Male Impersonators and Barrack Buddies, you both seemed to be opposed to DADT, even though you were nostalgic for a time when homosexuality was even more hidden than it was in the army in the 1990s. You of all people are aware of the complexities and contradictions here. And you, of all people, would be unlikely to begrudge a passionate embrace between a marine and his lover, especially if it is caught on camera.

But something is well and truly lost isn’t it?

Perhaps our only consolation is that in coming home, the gay identity is also quickening its own demise. You have predicted we are nearing the end of gay. Judging by the defensive reactions mainly gay men give to me when I even dare to critique their precious identity position, I am inclined to think you are right.

A Gay Marine Comes Home. We know it’s over, Roland.

It’s over.

P.s. I am going to be honest with you, one of the things that made me feel a bit ‘queasy’ was the gender dynamics of the photo. The marine, supposedly one of those macho masculine types, has a garland round his neck and is being lifted off the floor by his big strong civilian boyfriend (who he termes ‘the giant’ on his facebook page). But I am an old-fashioned girl.

  1. Git says:

    Christ almighty – you really need to get a fucking life and a clue, in no particular order. Being “practically a homo” doesn’t stop you from being a homophobic prick. Oh but that’s just me being defensive about my precious identity isn’t it? You’ve got it all sewn up in a neatly circular argument that means you are never wrong about anything.

    Take your fucking hands off our lives, tourist.

    • Matthew says:

      When I was asked if I was gay in 1988 by an Army recruiter I said to him, “Well I never had sex with either a man or a woman yet so I don’t know.” The recruiter replied, “If you don’t know you can’t join.” In other words so called “gay tourists” were negatively affected by the prejudice as well.

      But you obviously miss the point. “Gay identity” throughout the 20th century and especially since 1950 was built from an experience of being marginalized. As it moves from the margins towards the center, the mainstream it becomes clearly the End of Gay.

      I am an out bisexual artist for 23 years and in many art circles. And as my gay peers celebrated their outness, all the bisexual men and women I have known found it difficult to be out because they were continually ridiculed by many (but not all) of their gay peers because after all we don’t exist.

      Hense as gay has become more accepted bisexuals have become incredibly marginalized, and in many cases in sad tragic ways.

      Even by calling someone a “tourist” speaks volumes. It says a queer person that does not conform to a gay ideology must exist outside of the gay community.

      So what you have are men and women who have been pushed out of “straight” then pushed out of “gay”. And exist in an invisible sliver of reality, silent and invisible, in the margins of the margins. As they are neither but essentially “both” they become “stray” people, like stray cats or maverick cows.

      Realizing this to say the “end of gay” is to say that gay is less and less the margins and more and more part of the hegemony, and in my life experience a highly oppressive hegemony because unlike “straight” who largely correct their bigotry all too often “gay” feels they are immune to bigotry.

  2. john smith says:

    “Would that happen when being gay in the army is normalised?”

    Yes, it will be a strange army in the future, especially as the army is governed by “miss whiplash” determined to keep the straight men in line.

    Men will be able to kiss other men, but will have to show “respect to women” at all times.

    • yes that’s one possible aspect of it john! I think it may well be ‘straight’ men in the army whose behaviours are curtailed here.

    • Git says:

      Nice bit of casual misogyny there.

      • Ginkgo says:

        Yes very nice and quite appropriate. Miss Whiplash needs ot be hung up in public and left to die.

        Git, you have no fucking idea what you are talking about, Your casually ignornat characterization of John’s comment suggests you are a civilian because only a civilian can be that ignornat of the policy climate inside the Army. And you have the cheek to call someone else a tourist.

        And if you are one of deluded gay men who thinks we have any kind of comon cause with feminists, you need to clue up and learn a little history. They hate us and have always hated us and we have been stupid and self-hating enough to grovel to serve their purposes and keep coming back for more.

  3. Ginkgo says:

    Giant may be a civilian now, but he’s clearly a born-again civilian.

    For all the really vicious homophobia there has been in the Marines and the rest of the US military for that matter, it will probably fade fastest there too.I think that’s because one of the roots of homophobia is anxiety about general masculinity and a Marine is generally accepted by his peers to have maxed that test. If the Marines have “made a man” of you, who needs a woman for that? That kept coming out in survey after survey, that people cared more if a guy could shoot straight than if he would fuck straight.

  4. P.s. re the ‘born again civilian’ do you mean Giant is an ex-marine/ex-soldier?

    can you tell by the look of him?

    • Ginkgo says:

      With about a 90% reliabilty. Clue one – he looks blue collar. Clue two – he is not overweight, and that’s diagnostic right there. And he looks more enlisted than officer, although it is very hard to tell because enlisted fathers and mothers often have officer sons and daughters.

      Mildar works a lot like gaydar. You just look for obvious clues and collate and analyze them.

  5. john smith says:

    Ginkgo, my thinking was not just about the US army , but most groups and organizations these days. From the defence forces, football clubs, universities…etc, all seem to have this dynamic of liberalization for gays but increasing regulation and oppression for straight males.

    I have often wondered when and where these two social directions will crossover, and what will be the result.

    • Ginkgo says:

      Back in another life when I was teaching high school i saw something once when I was subbing in a chorus class.

      This kid is sitting next to a girl. I notice her give him the cold shoulder in the no-is-maybe passive aggressive kind of way. He looks at her, turns to the guy next to him and plants a big wet one on his stubbly cheek (high schoolers, remember). Friends chuckles. This knocks her for a loop. This was 15 years ago.

      The increasing demonization of straight men will stop when straight men stop putting themselves at the mercy of straight women, and not before. We saw this with the Temperance League and Prohibition and now it is happening with straight sex.

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